Medicine

New rules say 46 percent of Americans have hypertension

New rules say 46 percent of Americans have hypertension

Rather than 1 in 3 US adults having high blood pressure with the previous definition, the new guidelines will result in almost half of the USA adult population having the condition. But it increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the U.S. One was tasked with lowering their systolic pressure (the first number, which measures the blood pressure when your heart pulses) to below 120, the other, to below 140.

Dr. Shearer says people are usually diagnosed with high blood pressure in their 50's and 60's when arteries get stiffer but he says people as young as teens should get their blood pressure checked.

The changes were announced at the American Heart Association's 2017 Scientific Sessions conference in Anaheim, California.

The higher a person's blood pressure, the higher their risk is of developing heart disease, which means they're more likely to suffer poor health and die early, according to the guideline authors.

The challenge with the previous guideline is a patient with a reading of 135 over 85 may not have been treated for high blood pressure, Gandhi said.

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"I think the goal of the new guidelines is to get blood pressure on the radar for those at-risk patients, to make the diagnosis, to get them to do some lifestyle changes". High blood pressure sometimes is called the silent killer because it contributes to cardiovascular disease with no symptoms.

At the new cutoff, around 46 percent, or more than 103 million, of American adults are considered to have high blood pressure, compared with an estimated 72 million under the previous guidelines in place since 2003.

"There are millions of people that fall into this category that's now called Stage One Hypertension who previously we were calling normal blood pressures", Cardiology Director for the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Hartford Healthcare Corporation at MidState Medical Center Dr. Bill Farrell said. The association recommends that those with stage 1 hypertension will only be prescribed medication if they have a heart attack or stroke.

More guidance for how people should manage their blood pressure, focusing on lifestyle improvements.


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